Cracks show between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu on administration

The delay in the appointment of individuals to top posts in the bureaucracy, which has reportedly been caused by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s objection to certain individuals, has been seen as the initial sign of a conflict between Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu that is likely grow further, reports Today’s Zaman.

The highest non-elected position in the public bureaucracy, the post of the Prime Ministry’s undersecretary, has been empty for a month, and no appointment has been made for the post of the Prime Ministry’s Treasury undersecretary since it became vacant two weeks ago. There are claims that Davutoğlu has been unable to appoint the undersecretary due to an objection from President Erdoğan to his selection. The former undersecretary, Fatih Kasırga, was appointed to serve as the president’s secretary-general on Sept. 11. The post of the Prime Ministry’s Treasury undersecretary became empty when former Undersecretary İbrahim Çanakçı left for a post at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Erdoğan, who was elected president in the first direct presidential election in August, appointed former Foreign Minister Davutoğlu as his successor. Erdoğan’s aspirations to act like a president in a presidential system though there is parliamentary democracy in Turkey, as well as his remarks suggesting that he will fully exercise his powers as president led to concerns that there would be a rift between himself and the prime minister.

According to Felicity Party leader (SP) Mustafa Kamalak, the disagreement between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu over the appointment of Prime Ministry undersecretaries is just the beginning, and the division will grow as time goes by.

“Davutoğlu will ask for the boundaries of his powers to be set. Actually, the boundaries of the power and authorities of the prime minister are set in the Constitution. As long as these boundaries are violated, there will be more conflicts,” he told Sunday’s Zaman.

Democrat Party (DP) leader Gültekin Uysal said the outbreak of a conflict between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu is not surprising, adding that he, too, thinks it will continue to grow.

“It was apparent from the very beginning that Erdoğan would overstep his authority. He mentioned this explicitly. He designed the party [the ruling Justice and Development Party or AK Party] in front of everyone after his election to the presidency. Davutoğlu did not become the prime minister as a result of a democratic competition, but with Erdoğan’s appointment,” Uysal said.

Erdoğan did not step down as prime minister and cut his ties with his political party following his election to the presidency on Aug.10 as he is required to according to Article 101 of the Constitution, which says that once a person is elected president, his or her ties to their party and their membership in Parliament must end.

He waited until Aug. 28 when he took over the presidency to leave the posts of AK Party leader and prime minister.

The AK Party held a general congress on Aug. 27, one day before Erdoğan’s departure, where Davutoğlu, having been previously designated by Erdoğan as his successor, was elected to be the new prime minister.

According to Uysal, Erdoğan’s maneuvers strengthen the perception that Davutoğlu is like an acting prime minister while Erdoğan is the real prime minister behind the scenes.

Erdoğan’s speeches since becoming president in which he directly targets opposition parties just as he did during his days as prime minister are also problematic, said the DP leader.

“Erdoğan can no longer speak at the group meetings of his party, but he is still acting like a party leader. His most recent speeches during his Black Sea tour were similar to his speeches at his party’s group meeting. Even though Erdoğan seems to be continuing in the role of party leader and Davutoğlu accepts being a shadow prime minister, there are some posts in which tutelage cannot be allowed. The head of the executive branch is the prime minister. So, the post of the prime minister cannot accept any sort of tutelage. We will see more disagreements between Davutoğlu and Erdoğan,” he said.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) deputy group chairman Engin Altay said Davutoğlu accepted Erdoğan’s tutelage at the very beginning but the prime minister might have to take a step back from that position.

“The Davutoğlu-Erdoğan relationship is like Davutoğlu has the drum but Erdoğan has the stick to play it. Davutoğlu wants to get the stick, but Erdoğan refuses to give it to him. Davutoğlu can only have the stick sometimes. If he insists on having it, his lifespan as prime minister will not be long,” said Altay.

There is widespread belief that if Davutoğlu does not act in line with Erdoğan’s will, Erdoğan will remove him from the post of prime minister.

The disagreement between Erdoğan and Davutoğlu could even turn into a fight, according to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy chairman Oktay Öztürk.

“It seems that Davutoğlu cannot appoint the people he will work closely with of his own will. It is not a secret that Erdoğan has reservations about many issues, not just the appointment of the Prime Ministry undersecretary. … The important posts of the state should not be left empty for such a long time. The continuation of disagreements will inevitably bring about a fight,” he warned.

According to rumors in Ankara, Davutoğlu wants to appoint Kemal Mağdenoğlu, current undersecretary for the Development Ministry, as his undersecretary. The fact that this appointment has not taken place for a month is linked to an objection from Erdoğan. Erdoğan might have suggested new names to Davutoğlu that he has not approved.

A similar situation is in place for the position of Treasury undersecretary. Although some names are being mentioned for this post, no appointment has been made so far. The failure to appoint bureaucrats to these critical positions has led to anxiety in Ankara with regard to the implementation of economic measures Davutoğlu and Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan are planning.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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